Some regions in Kenya suffer marginalization in relation to the administrative locations of their respective regions. As a result, these regions suffer continued administrative and developmental neglect, including insecurity, bad roads, and illicit brewing of alcohol. This is the sad reality at Riakimai Village, situated in West Mugirango Constituency of Nyamira County. It borders Kitutu Masaba Constituency. The residents are predominantly peasant farmers, with a few tea bushes and subsistence crops on their farms as the critical source of their livelihood.
In August 2019, several Riakimai community members participated in a peaceful demonstration in Nyamira, to protest bad tea management policies and the theft of tea leaves by unscrupulous weighing clerks
Now in 2020, having experienced what they were able to achieve through the two previous protests, the Riakimai Community Action Team (CAT) invited the IFA Kisii Team back to discuss their present challenges. They listed many concerns: insecurity had contributed to two unsolved murders in their village; rampant corruption among police officers was fueling the brewing and selling of illicit brews, even to school-going children; the road network remains poor; and the administrative vacuum at the Assistant Chief’s Office was also top of their list.
The Community Action Team wrote their petition to the County Commissioner and County Commander, and on 3rd August 2020 set out on a march to deliver it. County Commissioner of Nyamira, Amos Mariba. received the petition – but the IFA crew were blocked from filming inside the Office of the County Commissioner.
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As a result of the petition, there was change. The County Commissioner promised to appoint a new Assistant Chief, and the County Commander addressed the issue of insecurity by promising to deploy regular patrols.
Moreover, two days after the petition was delivered, the Chief arrested all the illicit chang'aa brewers and had them arraigned in Court; and the Nyaturago-Rigena-Makairo road at the Riakimai Junction was resurfaced with murram.
The residents of Riakimai Village have seen and lived the benefits of community organizing and petition writing as a means of demanding change and dealing with wayward and corrupt leadership.
By the IFA Kisii Team